A Great Hope

Jessica Stanley

A Great Hope
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A Great Hope

Jessica Stanley

John Clare was a titan in Australian politics. The head of a powerful union, he had long been tipped as a future leader himself. Supporting him in his push for power were his elegant wife Grace, his troubled children Sophie and Toby, and Tessa, the mistress he thought would stay secret.

But now John has fallen, brutally, to his death. A terrible accident - or was it?

In the wake of losing John, his inner circle mourn and rage, remembering and trying to forget the many ways he’d loved and disappointed them. An adoring and unreliable father; a grateful and selfish husband; a besotted and absent lover; an authoritative and compassionate leader; a failed politician in an era when party politics failed a nation. As those around him reassess everything they knew of and felt for John, a new idea of what love and power really mean begins to emerge - as does the true cause of his death.

Gripping, propulsive and ambitious, A Great Hope untangles the mystery of John’s fall through the eyes of those who knew him best - or thought they did. Deftly displaying the clash of the political and the personal, this is a novel for our times, from a brilliant and forceful new Australian writer.

Review

Every so often a novel comes along with a magic, broad appeal; an inevitable conversation starter. Jessica Stanley’s A Great Hope is that kind of magic novel; a literary, multi-generational family saga that’s ambitious, smart and wholly engaging. Here is a book that wields a page-turning plot and gripping, complicated characters. You’ll gulp down all 400 pages, then push it fervently into the hands of everyone you know. Like Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, or Christos Tsiolkas’ The Slap, A Great Hope has a lot of timely things to say about families, politics, power and what we value. And it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Set in Melbourne and Canberra between two landmark federal elections (Rudd’s in 2007 and Gillard’s in 2010), this is a family saga wrapped around a murder mystery. It begins a year after the death of Australian politician John Clare. John has fallen to his death off the roof of his swanky Fitzroy home. It seems like an accident, but as his inner circle grieve and process their loss, it soon becomes clear that John’s relationships were more complicated than they might appear. Drawing on the alternating perspectives of a complex cast of characters (including John’s wife, children and mistress), Stanley sets thoughtful questions around the politics of marriage and parenting against the backdrop of a landmark era where federal party politics failed a nation.

Stanley’s political page-turner could not be released into the world at a better time than this 2022 election year. Over the course of A Great Hope, we witness John’s rise, from head of a powerful union to key player in the Kevin07 campaign. The three years that followed were truly pivotal in Australian politics, and Stanley explores this moment in history with a razor-sharp touch. A Great Hope is both a compelling mystery and an astute study of Australian politics by an exciting new literary talent.


Stella Charls is a bookseller at Readings Carlton.

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